National Salt Reduction Initiative attracts more members

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags New york city Hypertension

Another seven major food companies have joined the National Salt Reduction Initiative, which aims to cut salt in processed and restaurant food across the United States by 25 percent in five years.

The companies that joined the initiative on Thursday are Bertucci’s Italian Restaurant, Black Bear European Style Deli, Campbell Soup Company, Dietz & Watson, Ken’s Foods, Snyder’s-Lance, Inc., and Target Corporation. They have committed to specific reduction targets, and bring the number of food manufacturers involved in the program to 29, alongside cities, state authorities, national health organizations and state and local associations, making the total number of partners 72.

The National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI) partnership is led by New York City health officials to promote a voluntary sodium reduction program. It is based on a British scheme with specific targets for various food categories, considering each separately while bearing in mind the 25 percent overall reduction target, as well as specific technical challenges in individual categories.

New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said: “Diets high in sodium, taken over lifetimes, are fueling widespread hypertension, causing tens of thousands of preventable deaths. The national initiative spearheaded by New York City has begun the work to reverse this trend, and we’re pleased to see the partnership expand and grow.”

NYC sodium intake data

The seven companies’ addition to the program coincided with the release of new data from a New York City Health Department study, which suggested that 89 percent of New Yorkers consume more sodium than recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The research found that 61 percent of New Yorkers should consume less than 1,500mg of sodium per day, under the Dietary Guidelines’ recommendations, which classify those 51 years and older, blacks, and people with hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease as ‘high risk’ groups. This compares to 69 percent of Americans nationwide. Others are advised to limit sodium consumption to less than 2,300mg a day.

Based on 24-hour urine samples, the Health Department data suggested that only 11 percent of those in high risk groups manage to limit their sodium intake to the recommended amount. Full results of the research are due later this year, the NSRI said.

‘Enormous’ potential

CEO of the American Heart Association said: “Population-wide sodium reduction is key to reversing pervasive high blood pressure that can result in death due to heart disease and stroke. A compelling and growing body of evidence supports the need for frameworks like the NSRI. The initiative’s efforts are laudable and its potential health benefits are enormous.”

Among those companies that joined the initiative last week, Campbell Soup Company cited its Pepperidge Farm breads, Healthy Request soups and SpaghettiOs pastas; Snyder’s-Lance said it had committed to reducing sodium in its Lance Sandwich crackers while working to cut sodium across its snack lines; Dietz & Watson said it would further reduce sodium in its frankfurters and cream cheese to meet NSRI standards for 2014; and Bertucci said it has already reached the 2014 NSRI goals in most categories but pledged to slash sodium by another five percent this year.

Other food companies that have already committed to NSRI targets are Au Bon Pain, Boar’s Head, Butterball, Delhaize America, FreshDirect, Furmano’s, Goya, Hain Celestial, Heinz, Hostess Brands, Kraft, LiDestri, Mars Food, McCain Foods, Premio, Red Gold, Starbucks, Subway, Unilever, Uno Chicago Grill and White Rose.

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